Growing up with an inherent passion for food, Deema was always interested in EVERYTHING food. To her, food is not merely a pastime, but life, and its importance, lies not just in its indulgence, but essentially, where it comes from, how it’s grown, and how it ultimately connects communities and people with one another. Her father, a prominent Palestinian surgeon, had high aspirations for his daughter, and rightly so. He was hopeful that she would follow in his tracks, and pursue a career in medicine. Her family, never quite understood her passion for food, or at least how successful a career in food might prove to be; and when she took an interest into making gelato, both parents were a bit weary of her appreciation for food and the potential career path that could emanate from it. Suitably, being the foodie she is, Deema took on gelato making, and learned from a successful Palestinian man who would soon after, become one of the best chefs in Seattle. Speaking to Deema, and listening to the way her career transpired, is quite inspiring.
Deema, an English major, never actually had any connection to the tech world, and didn’t quite set out to go the tech route. She realized quickly, however, that she was intrigued by the humanities and storytelling and thus, assumed she’d just become a lawyer. After finishing her Bachelors degree in English, she began her pursuit to become a lawyer. She’d consulted with an English professor on her plans to become a lawyer, and her professor advised, she first work at a law firm in San Francisco, before actually attempting to pursue a career in law. Whilst working at the firm, she realized the law itself, wasn’t for her. However, within the law firm, she had the opportunity to oversee the work of the marketing programs of the firm and really enjoyed the story-telling angle of that work. She subsequently left the firm to work for a startup in Seattle, called Streambox - a screening media company, running ahead of the youtube era, working as a web designer and content curator, for a couple years. Soon after, the dot com collapse, meant many, including Deema, were in a state of job uncertainty. She chose to leave her comfortable position at Streambox, to work for another company, and soon after she worked for an arts marketing company where she worked on events planning.
Having lived near Microsoft and interested in the work of the company, Deema wanted to enhance her knowledge in marketing and digital drive marketing. She networked extensively, and was able to land a job at Xbox. She learned quickly that she had a knack for data-driven marketing. Through her work, she learned the importance of storytelling and branding, more specifically, how data can be utilized to speak to people - as a brand and about the product. Later, an opportunity emerged at Youtube, “right before things fell apart, from an economic standpoint”, as she elaborated. During that period of time, “it was a really interesting time to work in San Francisco”, she described. For her, Youtube had a friendly startup vibe, given that it was still a relatively large company.
Soon after, a colleague she worked with went to work with a start up called Scribd, and they needed someone to lead their marketing efforts. Deema took over product marketing at Scribd and 2 years later, she was offered an opportunity to work at ‘Flipboard’, in Silicon Valley. Deema worked for Flipboard for 5 years, where she was the product marketing lead. She dubbed the experience as, ‘a truly enjoyable experience’, where she was able to focus more on storytelling and content development.
Being the go-getter she is, Deema always knew she wanted to start an enterprise of her own, and so, she did just that. A hackathon was calling her name. She decided to enter the hackathon with her husband, where she met a couple of engineers, and won the hackathon for her gardening business idea, ‘Giving Garden’, which is now in beta phase. Giving Garden’s aim is to build and deliver products that help gardeners and local food enthusiasts grow, share and eat food together. Deema, currently works part time on Giving Garden, and spends the rest of her time on developing her marketing agency, ‘Caneberry’. Caneberry, is dedicated to bringing communities together both online and offline, which Deema finds especially interesting, as technology - particularly social media, is currently taking over people’s lives, and greatly impacting offline communities.
Having been able to have the experiences she did, Deema expressed interest in providing assistance to other striving entrepreneurs and startups in Palestine. She can offer a wide range of services to those in need, ranging from: advice in marketing, product launching, product marketing and branding, to going to market and roll-out. She’s also interested in offering advice on product development, which she has considerable experience in.
So, what advice can Deema offer to all the striving entrepreneurs out there?
“You need to okay with not being told you’re doing a good job as an entrepreneur. It was really hard initially, having gone from working in a company, which is so performance driven, with people always telling you that you did well and just receiving positive affirmation on your work; and as an entrepreneur, you’re simply doing your work. There isn't someone above you, giving you that feedback, in the same way as you would while working with a company. There’s obviously feedback when your company is successful and you're hitting milestones, but it takes time to get there. Not knowing where things are going to go is very important, so flexibility and confidence, is key”.
Currently, Deema is interested in food entrepreneurship. She is working on an idea that could potentially, highlight her passion for food and Palestine, together in one.
If you are interested in learning more about Deema and her experiences, follow her on Medium at: https://medium.com/@deemanator